It is very early in the morning, and I’m sitting here, drinking coffee, watching the day start – with the sun coming up, and Team Knit stirring as we get up and get going in four separate spots all over the city. Funny to think that after this, we’ll travel together every day for a week.
(Yes. I am drinking coffee in the bath to save time. It’s efficient.)
I’m nervous. I know I say that every year, and I know that people shrug it off – you’ve done it before, they say. You’ll be OK, they say. The truth is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, it just isn’t easy to ride your bike 660km. (For my American Friends, that’s 410miles.) This year I compounded the difficulty by not training much. There were so many times when I could do a job that would benefit the whole Rally, or just me (the training) and I opted for the former. I’ve spoken with lots of the former Co-Chairs, and they all say the same thing. They years that they embraced leadership were the years that they trained the least. There just isn’t time, and opting for the Rally in general has absolutely seemed more responsible, right up until this minute when I’m thinking about putting my untrained arse on a bike and riding out of here.
There will be many times over the course of the next week when everyone on Team Knit steps up to a Leadership role, and each of us has our own reasons for doing so. I won’t speak to the rest of Team Knit, but I can tell you that the things my mother taught me have been figuring largely in my reasons for riding my bike this year. My mum believed, wholeheartedly, that the world was a different place for women than it is for men. When I was a younger woman I thought that she was a tad extreme in these beliefs, but the older I get, the more that I see that it’s true. I feel now the way my mum did, that there is absolutely no reason to be bitter about this, but she was rather firm that you couldn’t just… ignore it.
So, when my mum died, I thought about giving up the Co-Chair gig. (Don’t tell that to Ted – the other half of Co-Chair equation) I thought that it wasn’t going to be my best self, and that someone else would be better at it, and I thought a lot about quitting, and then something started to happen. I started going down to PWA. I started doing the work. I started looking around and listening and realizing that there was something going on, and that thing was that when I went to PWA? The place is full of women and children.
HIV/AIDS is now regarded mostly as a chronic disease that largely has to do with gay men, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it’s true that we’ve got treatment now for a great many people who have HIV/AIDS, the regime is expensive, difficult to comply with, and hard to access for many people who are living complicated lives – the primary risk factors for HIV/AIDS are now poverty and lack of power. (Here’s a great example, in Saskatchewan (that’s a province in the middle-ish of Canada) 79% of the new cases of HIV are in indigenous people.
We see this in the shifting client base at PWA. These days almost 30% of PWA’s clients are women and their children.
The truth is that if one of the main risk factors for HIV/AIDS is poverty and a lack of power, than it is only going to continue to disproportionately affect poor and dis-empowered women since we haven’t solved that whole equality problem yet. I could (and have) go on forever about this topic, about how robust the solution to this problem needs to be – how diverse we have to think, and when I think that? I hear my mum. I hear her problem solving, her ideas, her knowledge that communities fix things, and investing in communities is always helpful, and her belief that if you have some money or power (or both) you have a responsibility to get firmly on the side of people who do not. My Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to quit being Co-Chair because she got sick and died.
So, this morning will be the first time that my Mum hasn’t been with me for departure. Last night was the first time she didn’t call to see if I was ready, or text this morning to ask (for the 387time what time departure is. (Geez Mum it’s 9am the same every year.) I’m going to go invest in this community, and I’m going to trust that investment to carry me. I’m going to put my love and care in Team Knit, in Ken, and Cameron and Pato, and believe that they’re going to do the same thing, that we’ll get through it together, if we stick together. I love those guys, and they love me.
Team Knit wants to thank you too for all of this. Each of us is at our (public) goal, though each of us has hopes and dreams and a private goal we haven’t disclosed, and we’re still hoping to reach. We have you to thank for it. We put our energy, time and money towards this problem, ad you did too – and we can’t thank you enough.
You are the only reason Team Knit makes a difference, and we’re so, so grateful.
We love you. Thank you.
If you find an extra fiver hanging around this week, or you decide that something in your life can be rearranged a little bit to redistribute some power and luck in the world, Team Knit remains:
(PS. Kim at Indigodragonfly summed all of this up so well, when her fundraising colourways for the Bike Rally this year were to honour her mother, and mine. Kim knows a ton about redistributing luck and power. She’s awesome.)
(PPS. I don’t think I can blog over the next week, but follow me on instagram and I’ll try to show you everything. I’m @yarnharlot.)